What do you do when in the midst of living the perfect life that you had always wanted, you are challenged out of that comfort zone to pursue something more significant yet risky and scary? Kathy Izard can tell you. While living her dream life in Charlotte, North Carolina, circumstances shifted her out of where she was going to take her in a direction that she never would have imagined. Izard writes that at thirty-five, she was, “an accidental tourist in my own life.”
In The Hundred Story Home, Kathy Izard tells her story of significance and how she was able to make a difference with the issue of homelessness in Charlotte. From her early days growing up in El Paso Texas with her parents and two sisters, Izard writes of her mother’s mental illness during an era when mental illness was still the unspeakable illness. No one talked about it. No one really dealt with it. Though people in their church cared for her and her family, she writes, “There are no casseroles for crazy.”
After going to college in North Carolina, getting married, starting a family, and settling down in Charlotte, Kathy began to live her life, the life that she had felt she had stumbled upon. She stumbled upon an ad in the church bulletin asking for volunteers to help out at Charlotte’s Urban Ministry Center. That began the journey that would eventually lead her on a journey towards helping to address homelessness in Charlotte.
Kathy Izard tells her story like a rambling river, meandering between the details that swirled around her life. She chronicles her mother’s illness. She talks about the bond that was formed with her father and how his cancer diagnosis and eventual death shook her out of complacency. She talks about her daughter’s open heart surgery at nine months old. All of these details surrounded the work that she had begun to see how the issue of homelessness in Charlotte could be addressed.
After reading the book Same Kind of Different As Me, she felt led to reach out to the authors to see if they could come speak at a fundraiser for the ministry center on whose board Izard served. They agreed, the fundraiser was put together, and in an interaction with Denver Moore, one of the authors, he asked her where all the beds were when she toured him around the ministry center.
Izard’s journey continued and she tells of how she began to take Moore’s words to heart and worked towards helping to start a program that took some of the most chronically homeless off the streets.
Kathy Izard is a gifted storyteller. She invites her reader into her narrative. Her story never feels disjointed or abrupt, everything flows in such a meaningful and intentional way towards the end. She shares her heart and I could hear her emotion in every word as she struggled with sadness, despair, wonder, curiosity, doubt, and joy.
My expectation when I started this book was that Izard’s faith might have taken more of a front seat than it actually did. She mentions her lack of faith early on and it never develops beyond a simple acknowledgement of the fact that God was there. I was a little disappointed that seeing how all the pieces came together didn’t stir her faith more than it did. While she acknowledges its presence in her life, it never seemed to have moved out of the back seat that its inhabited for the majority of her life.
The Hundred Story Home was a good read. I was encouraged by the story to hear of one person’s journey towards combating homelessness. It seems that with the right ideas and right connections, anyone can make a difference. An acknowledgement and testimony that God was in the details and just what that meant to Izard might have been in order.
(This review is based upon a copy of this book which was provided free of charge from Booklook Bloggers. These opinions are my own; I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated for this review.)